Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Colleges

UCF kicker should make a YouTube video about his free education

When compiling a list of America's most thankless jobs, teachers, police officers, IRS agents and MLS referees are four occupations that immediately come to mind.

And after what we saw transpire this week at Central Florida, you can certainly add college football administrator to the inventory.

We destroy college football administrators when they break the rules.

And, yes, we destroy them when they abide by them, too.

UCF has been getting barbecued nationally for informing Knights kicker Donald De La Haye that his popular and profitable YouTube channel may put his NCAA eligibility at risk. Recent headline at ESPN.com: UCF tells kicker he can't profit from YouTube.

Actually, UCF didn't tell De La Haye that. What UCF told De La Haye is that if he wants to keep profiting from YouTube, then he may be ineligible to play college football. After all, NCAA rules clearly state that an athlete "may establish his or her own business, provided the student-athlete's name, photograph, appearance or athletics reputation are not used to promote the business."

While De La Haye's videos are funny and entertaining, he certainly uses his name, photograph, appearance and athletics reputation as a UCF football player to promote the videos. For instance, his recent video — a hilarious portrayal of how quarterbacks are prima donnas in everyday life — was taped inside the UCF sports facilities and has received nearly 250,000 views.

In another video about his NCAA eligibility issues titled "Quit College Sports or Quit YouTube," De La Haye says, "I feel like they're making me pick between my passion in what I love to do — make videos and entertain, be creative — and my other passion, which is playing football."

De La Haye, a marketing major, is a bright and talented kid, but he is almost certainly breaking NCAA rules. Personally, I would love to see him make more of these slice-of-college-life videos, but the rules are the rules. And UCF shouldn't be portrayed as the bad guy for trying to follow them.

Many of us might disagree with the rule that prohibits athletes from profiting off their names and likenesses, but don't ever forget why the rule is in place: Because college football programs cheat like NASCAR crew chiefs. If you allow UCF's kicker to make money off his funny videos, how many well-heeled Alabama and Ohio State boosters are lining up to pay their recruits and star players $10,000 a pop for a selfie?

Of course, the popular and predictable stance is to rip UCF and the NCAA for exploiting De La Haye. You know the tired old storyline: "Why can the big bad school profit off the player's name, but the poor little player can't?"

First of all, nobody is profiting off De La Haye's name right now except De La Haye. He's a kicker who most UCF fans couldn't even have named until this issue came up. Nobody buys tickets to see him play or lines up at the merchandise tent to buy his jersey.

And just to be clear, UCF isn't some Power Five football factory making millions and millions of dollars on the backs of its athletes. The fact is, UCF's football program is a money loser and the only the reason the Knights can fund the program at a competitive level is because of an exorbitant student athletic fee, which is essentially a "football tax" that all of UCF's 60,000-plus students must pay for every semester hour they take.

So please spare me the rhetoric about how UCF and the NCAA are taking advantage of De La Haye, who is being fed, housed and educated to kick a football. He will likely be like 99.9 percent of college athletes who never make it to the pros. Many of these athletes don't have the financial wherewithal to get into college but are admitted because of their athletic skill. Without college football, they never would have a chance to get an education.

As someone who is currently putting two daughters through college, don't you dare try to minimize the price of a full-ride college scholarship. Anybody out there who doesn't believe a college degree is fair compensation for chasing a bouncing ball, I suggest you try getting a job in today's competitive workplace without one.

Ask Blake Bortles how much money he made at UCF — a school that offered him a scholarship as a quarterback when nobody else would. Bortles was instructed by UCF's coaching staff, nourished by UCF's dining halls and strengthened by UCF's weight room. He went on to become the third player picked in the NFL draft and is now a multi-millionaire starting quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Why doesn't somebody make a YouTube video about that?

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